The Citadel's Duggar Baucom spent a sleepless night in his hotel room Sunday night. Four straight losses, capped by a lackluster effort in a 15-point loss at Furman on Saturday, will do that to a basketball coach.
Baucom's restlessness led to a couple of ideas – five-in, five-out substitutions and improved spacing – that helped the Bulldogs snap that four-game skid with a thrilling 104-103 victory over Wofford on Monday night at Benjamin Johnson Arena in Spartanburg.
Freshman Kaelon Harris led the Bulldogs with 23 points, while freshman Preston Parks chipped in 19 as The Citadel improved to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the Southern Conference.
Parks' 3-pointer with 1:14 left in regulation got the Bulldogs to overtime, and two free throws by freshman Frankie Johnson with 32 seconds left in OT gave The Citadel a 104-100 lead.
Wofford guard Eric Garcia nailed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to cut it to 104-103, but the Terriers failed to foul in the final seconds, allowing the Bulldogs to run out the clock.
“Wofford has been the class of the league for 10 years, and what (coach) Mike Young has done here is remarkable,” said Baucom, who won for the first time at Wofford. “To have all these young guys and see the poise they played with tonight, it was great. A total group effort.”
Wofford, which has won four SoCon Tournament titles since 2010, was led by Garcia with 27 points. Former Wando High School standout Matt Pegram scored nine points with four rebounds and made some big plays down the stretch as the Terriers rallied from nine down in the first half.
Baucom subbed his players five at a time, and the Bulldogs made 19 steals while forcing 23 Wofford turnovers. After a slow start from 3-point range, The Citadel ended up 12 of 35 (34.3 percent) from long distance, and shot a sizzling 63.1 percent on 2-pointers.
Sophomore guard Matt Frierson, 2 for 24 in his last five games from 3-point range, made 3 of 4 to score 10 points. Senior Tom Koopman came off the bench to score 12 points, combining with senior Zane Najdawi for 23 points and six rebounds from the post.
“When you lose, all kinds of things go through your head,” Baucom said. “I thought, let's go back to being unique, and I told our assistants we're going back to shifts. We wrote out the shifts and I think that gave us a lot of energy down the stretch. Our minutes were pretty evenly dispersed.”
Baucom also adjusted the Bulldogs' spacing, moving Koopman and Najdawi away from the basket and urging the players to follow the 1.5-second rule – shoot or pass the ball within 1.5 seconds.
“We tried to drag Tom and Zane away from the basket, and we got some driving lanes,” Baucom said. “It did help. Our spacing was way better and our ball movement was so much crisper tonight.”
The Bulldogs also played some defense, guarding the 3-point line well enough to hold Wofford (6-9, 1-1) to 5 of 19, including a banked-in 3-pointer to beat the shot clock in the first half.
“You get what you earn,” Baucom said, “and I thought we earned it tonight.”
The Citadel returns home to play East Tennessee State on Thursday.